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It’s Been One Hell Of A Week For Mass Cannabis Headlines

From news on the lab-testing front, to Governor Healey’s possession pardons, to an update on suspended CCC Chair Shannon O’Brien

The news storm started toward the end of last week.

While the Cannabis Control Commission’s Thursday meeting was an hours-long snoozefest mostly focused on the agency’s search for a new executive director, the CCC also sent a letter to licensees about “Cannabinoid Reporting by Independent Testing Laboratories” and released its long-awaited model Host Community Agreement.

Exciting as that stuff may be to industry stakeholders, for some reason, those and cannabis developments are especially hot this week—even the executive director’s search made multiple headlines, largely via syndication of a State House New Service piece by Colin A. Young titled “State Cannabis Control Commission looks to have new director by summer,” or, alternatively, “New director seen as ‘major step’ at Cannabis Commission.”

Speaking of CCC leadership, there’s an update on the appointed side of things. SHNS also furnished the latest in the ongoing feud between suspended CCC Chair Shannon O’Brien and Treasurer Deb Goldberg. Colin A. Young reports:

The long-awaited and often-debated meeting between Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and suspended Cannabis Control Commission Chairwoman Shannon O’Brien, a meeting that could lead to O’Brien’s firing, is being penciled in for April 10 and 11.

Goldberg has given two justifications for O’Brien’s suspension and possible firing: that the chairwoman is alleged to have made racially insensitive remarks and that she mistreated former CCC Executive Director Shawn Collins, a former Goldberg deputy.

O’Brien has denied the allegations against her and in the fall sued Goldberg. A Superior Court judge late last year cleared the way for Goldberg to hold the meeting that is required if the treasurer is to fire the CCC chair. The judge denied O’Brien’s efforts to force the meeting to be public and blessed a “protocol” for the Goldberg-O’Brien meeting, spelling out how it is to be run.

It’s also clear that journalists have been following Talking Joints Memo, because they are on the ball regarding cannabis delivery companies, and helping push the message that state regulators ought to change rules to will help that license class as soon as possible.

And then there is the big one—Mass Gov. Maura Healey’s indication that she is going to follow the lead of President Joe Biden and pardon some people with cannabis possession convictions. First broken by the Boston Globe on Monday, with versions hitting most big local platforms, from MassLive to GBH, it even spun nationally thanks to the Associated Press running the story and Fox News posting it alongside prohibitionist propaganda.

Even before Healey’s announcement, which took place on Beacon Hill at 10am on Wednesday morning, there were spinoff stories. NECN ran with “Councilors eager to dig into Healey’s pot pardon plan.” By “Councilors,” they’re talking about the Governor’s Council, an obscure body that votes on judicial appointments, Parole Board members, and, as it turns out, plays a hand in whether the governor can pardon Paul who got pinched puffing bowls on Boston Common way back in the day. No one ever pays too much attention to the Governor’s Council, but when there are prohibitionist voices coming from their chamber that can easily be echoed for cheap outrage clicks, they’re suddenly worthy of coverage. From NECN:

The elected Governor’s Council has final approval over any clemency recommended by the governor. In interviews Tuesday, Councilor Paul DePalo of Worcester said he was “100% supportive” of Healey’s move, and Councilor Eileen Duff called the action “long overdue.”

But Councilor Joseph Ferreira, a former police chief, said he still had “a lot of questions” and needed further investigation into potential “unknown ramifications” — like ones that could pop up if the simple possession charge was coupled with another offense, or was a predicate offense to seek a greater sentence.

As far as weed news goes, it’s a whirlwind by mid-week. And that’s just Massachusetts.